Governor Charlie Baker signed the 2016 State Budget on July 17, 2015. The budget covers the fiscal year from July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2016. Earlier in June, the Governor had signed a one-month budget for July.
Line items at the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) and MassHealth fared well in the budget. The Conference Committee chaired by Representative Brian Dempsey and Senator Karen Spilka released a favorable report on July 7, 2015, which was supported by leadership and the full legislature. The governor signed off on those items.
The gains in the budget include:
- DDS Family Support is $1 Million higher than the original figure from last year. However there had a been a $2.5 Million reduction at the end of the previous administration which means that families and family support benefits from $3.5 Million in new allocations or services
- DDS Adult Autism Services line reflects the full amount of projected spending this year for the brand new line item ($12.7 M). The Conference committee also added $300,000 to fund the autism commission
- DDS Day and Employment received the full maintenance amount ($10 M. more) for which we advocated. These monies not only protect those who require more individualized services in their day settings, but it also means that Turning 22 students who graduated this past year will NOT lose their job coaches and related services.
- DDS Transportation – a big boost to maintain services with $3 million above last year’s total. The lack of transportation continues to be a barrier for employment and maintaining community connections.
- Final increase to comply with chapter 257 or rate adjustments for DDS residential services. This is a significant investment (tens of millions) which completes the first round of addressing chapter 257 with residential. We hope it will be reflected in staff quality.
- DDS Turning 22 graduates in 2016 and the Children’s autism waiver each received $500,000 more in funding than the previous year
- A new DDS line item of $250,000 is established to foster best practices for those individuals who are aging. It notes specifically Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease.
- In MassHealth, personal care attendant, day habilitation and adults family/foster care programs are maintained with growth projected. Language restores caregiver respite funding in the AFC program (so a 3-month hiatus in that funding ends) and a study on dental benefits is required. The latter will compare benefits in 2016 to those in 2010 (after 2010 dental services were lost for many due to the recession).
- DPH Early Intervention (EI) is higher than both versions of the budget and above last year’s total. EI has not yet benefitted from chapter 257 rate adjustments. This is a key issue this year as EI programs compete with hospitals and other settings for allied health staff. This program is essential for infants and toddlers at risk for disabilities or diagnosed with disabilities.
You can review the budget chart here.
Thank you to Governor Baker, Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate President Stanley Rosenberg and our entire legislature for their support of our community. We appreciate their positive consideration and decisions.